When you decided to launch your business as an independent consultant, chances are you chose a field or industry in which you have experience, that you enjoy and that you more than likely maintain a level of expertise. When you started, you might have assumed most of your time and energy would go toward doing that specific work for your clients.
However, like many independent consultants, you may have been blind-sided by the level of administrative work that needs to be done to keep your business moving forward and growing. And if managing admin work isn't your thing, you may even find yourself woefully behind in responding to email, billing, client reporting or other important administrative tasks that are critical to making sure your business is functioning as smoothly and as productively as possible.
If you regularly struggle with managing your time to complete administrative work, you can start by putting a good calendar system in place to keep track of projects, deadlines, appointments and other administrative items; couple that with the following tips and you'll find that staying on top of your administrative work doesn't have to be as laborious and time-consuming as it may seem.
It's important to make sure the most important projects get done first. Be sure to set deadlines for your most pressing administrative tasks and get those things out of the way. One strategy is to allot designated time for each one of these tasks by setting a calendar appointment with yourself. Carving out dedicated time to administrative tasks makes it easier to work them into your work day.
Process mail immediately
The ideal way to manage paper is to handle incoming mail immediately. When you get it, read it. If you don't need it, throw it away. File it immediately, if it needs to be filed. And if there's action required, take care of it right away.
For every form that you use, repeatedly create templates so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel each time you need to send something out. Invoices, proposals and statements should have standard forms that allow you to simply plug-in the new information each time. You can even generate standard response emails for frequently asked questions.
Get the most out of your email program
If you haven't already, take time to learn how to set up folders and filters in your email account. This will help you prioritize what emails you respond to and when. Store important contacts and create "groups" so that you can easily access people you email regularly.
Maintain up-to-date inventories and limit errands
By keeping an updated inventory list of the supplies you need, you will reduce the amount of time you need to go buy more supplies. Monitor usage so that you can limit trips out to once per week or per month, as needed. Ordering online and having supplies delivered will also save a significant amount of time. If errands are a must, schedule them during down times and not during your peak periods of work.
Develop a filing system
You'll also benefit from a filing system. Color coding your files will help you easily put your hands on what you need. Keep the ones you use most within reach and put the others away in a filing cabinet to reduce clutter. When you’re looking for that crucial item in a pinch, de-cluttering ahead of time can save you!